1000+ Hospitality Workers are now back on the job following the opening of the Airport on 1st June 2020 to facilitate International Travel, and reopening of several Resorts around the island. Earlier in March over 6000 Hospitality employees had to be sent home from their jobs due to reduced occupancies as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Resorts were forced to closed their doors after Governments around the World started to apply travel restrictions and closed borders as Country’s went into lockdown to control the spread of the Covid-19 Virus. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda took a bold decision to reopen the borders and established a number of protocols for travelers upon entry.
Sandals Grande Resort and Spa was one of the first properties to reopen with a total of 550 employees back on the job. Trumpet news reached out to Matthew Cornall General Manager of the Resort who told us “Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa is grateful to have been part of an amazing journey which saw Antigua and Barbuda as one of the first country’s to re-open our doors to international visitors, we were Able to play an integral role in restarting tourism and the economy. Our team members are elated to be back at work, our occupancy forecast is looking positive and we are confident that the country’s tourism sector will continue to see an uptick in arrivals.”
Our news room also reached out to the Owner of Hodges Bay Resort and Spa Jeff Wellemeyer who told Trumpet News “It is still a very tumultuous time for the entire industry and while it will be some time before hotels are able to operate profitably, right now we are concentrating on just being able to bring as many people as we possibly can back to work”. Hodges Bay currently have 43 employees back on the job. The Resort was one that never closed and have provided accommodation for it employees during the lockdown.
Our reporter took the time to speak to two employees at one of the Resorts to get a feedback from them as to how it feels to be back on the job, to protect their identity we decided to refer to them as Jessica and Dave:
Jessica is a Room Attendant of 16 years in the industry she told Trumpet News, “She was very happy to be back on the job and was very concerned for hospitality workers from other hotels who are still at home struggling.
She went on to say “it’s a different feel been back out to work because of the various protocols which were put in place by her employer. The way we use to interact with each other as coworkers and with the guest have now changed, things are really different”.
Jessica concluded by telling our reporter “The safety protocols the Company put in place to protect us is very good, I hope my colleagues continue to adhere to them to protect themselves and their families, working in a Covid Environment is going to be the new norm for a long time it seems.”
Dave a bartender for 3 years told Trumpet “he was on his last dollar when he got the call to come out to work he had to ask his barber to assist him with a haircut until he got paid and his mother a market vendor helped him with money to buy petrol to get to work for the first week” he cried as he explained.
Dave further said “he has made enough money to pay his barber, return to regular grooming, support his family and even to help a struggling single mother from another hotel with grocery’s to support her and her family”.
Trumpet News also reached out to the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association Executive Director Patrice Simon who stated “We are looking forward to the coming weeks and months as the demand increases for the destination and we see more flights and guest arriving to Antigua and Barbuda”.
Mrs. Simon went on to tell us “Our member Hotels have done an excellent job preparing their respective properties to reopen meeting all the requisite protocols, as we move through these uncertain times, we encourage all our industry partners to remain vigilant of our new standards of operations ensuring that visitors continue to come to our shores safely and we continue to see the safe and steady return of our sector”.
A total of 14 Resorts are now open for business which includes Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa, Hodges Bay Resort and Spa, Hammock Cove, Coco Bay Resort, Tamarind Hills, Cocos Hotel, Antigua Village just to name a few, a full list can be located on the ABHTA website antiguahotels.org, Other Resorts are expected to start reopening later this year.